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Where the #$@&%*! are all the books?! On my Kindle.

15 February 2016

From Mashable:

People love physical books. They even prefer them over ebooks. Studies say this and bibliophiles believe it.

But it’s just not true. Ebooks, whether on an ereader, an iPad or a smartphone, are a vastly more convenient experience than physical books and are most certainly the way of the future.

I’m writing this on the commute home where on multiple cars ridden by hundreds of people I spot exactly one physical book. Everyone else is staring at their smartphone, tablet or, like me, their computer. There isn’t even a newspaper to be found. When I first started riding the train in the late 1980s, you could barely hear yourself think over the rustling of newsprint.

. . . .

I often wonder at bookstores, with their aisles and aisles of dead trees compressed into 200 or so pages. Each book a perfect story just waiting for someone to buy and crack it open. How do these places survive? No one is reading physical books any more. Are they?

Yet this recent study says they are. Of course, the linguistics professor interviewed college students. Today’s college age students might be the last generation raised using books to study. Children at home and in school today are using tablets and computers to learn. At what point, I wonder, will we see young people who do not know the physical act of turning the page?

. . . .

New books are ridiculous.

We have all this awesome technology that can compress thousands of books into a single,roughly 7-ounce device that can run for two weeks on a single charge and probably saves hundreds of thousands of trees a year, but it’s not good enough? What, exactly, is so special about a new book?

Do we really need Khloe Kardashian’s Strong Looks Better Naked in print when it will look just as good, if not better, on an iPad? 10 years from now, when you spot that tome on your bookshelf, what will you feel?

The study notes that for serious reading, physical books are best. In what way, exactly? Not long ago, I was working on a book review. Since it was not yet available as an ebook, the publisher sent me a physical copy. I started reading and, initially took book notes by tearing up Post-It notes, writing little notes on them and sticking them to the corresponding pages. It was a terrible strategy. Eventually I switched to writing notes with page numbers in my iPhone. If I had an ebook version, I could have digitally highlighted all the key parts and even mailed them to myself (or viewed my highlights in my Amazon account).

Not sure how you get this “serious reading” done better on a print book. And I assume that by “serious” they mean studying.

. . . .

I know, the study says that this is how people really want to read. On social media, people remind me that ebooks are more expensive (are they, really?), they need power (true, but so does almost everything else we do in this digitally saturated 21st Century). These are thin arguments and probably sound weak even to those who say them. Ebooks are, in fact, a better reading technology than print. Period.

Link to the rest at Mashable and thanks to Jason for the tip.


27 Comments to “Where the #$@&%*! are all the books?! On my Kindle.”

  1. I like paper for some things, but it is inevitably for its preciousness and uniqueness. Digital art can be glorious and fascinating, but there are times you want the original piece of paper that someone breathed on, spit on, smeared their thumbs on and left print-marks, gessoed over and then painted a new piece on top (but you can scrape it away to see the layer underneath).

    What’s special about that, though, is its uniqueness. There is nothing unique or special about the average mass market paperback.

    Collector’s editions, treated as works of art, I can totally see wanting to own. One of a kind books, or short-run things with special additions, absolutely. But in my head, paper books have gone into the same niche in my headspace as exactly that: a niche meant to give you a physical connection with a particular person or thing, at which point the closer and more distinct that connection, the better… and if it can be unique, that’s best.

    But yeah. An $9 paperback that falls apart while I’m reading it and is printed on practically see-through paper. Not really going to make it into that category. :,

  2. Lance Ulanoff believes everyone should act and work like him. This is the basis for an adequate bar conversation, not an article for which he was paid money.

  3. I recently read The Bonehunters, book 6 in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson. These are huge books, dense and deep with a lot going on, and I think book 6 is the longest yet. The mmpb runs 1200 pages of very small, light type. When I was ready to start reading, I opened it and went, Ugh, no way. So I looked on Amazon and fortunately the Kindle version was a reasonable price (2.99 for Matchbook, since I had bought the paper from Amazon; 9.99 regular price, which is my absolute upper limit for a book I really want), so I bought it and read that instead.

    I finished that book in the shortest time I’ve finished any of the other books in that series. For one thing, my hands didn’t get tired from holding my Fire or my Kindle reader or my phone they way they would have holding that brick of a paperback (trying to hold open the pages in the middle of a 1200 page paperback is not easy), I could adjust the type to something comfortable and easy to read, I found that I got more immersed in the story when I wasn’t distracted by the heavy book and small type and how slow my progress seemed to be, and I could read anywhere – stuck in line somewhere? Whip out the phone and read a few pages.

    If I wasn’t convinced before that I prefer ebooks (instead of just liking them), I am now.

  4. I like paper for non-fiction work I want to study, so I can scribble notes, highlight, and stick tabs in it for easy reference. I also prefer it for highly visual books. I have four shelves of ‘art of X movie’, animation guides, visual design, and other assorted stuff like that. My cookbook collection takes up its own 5-shelf bookcase. But for fiction? My Kindle app is my BEST friend ever when it comes to fiction. If I had all those books in hardcopy, we’d need to rent a storage shed just to keep them.

  5. Anyone else trying to figure out which seven-letter curse word is being censored in the headline? The only one I can think of is G-d**n, but who says, “Where the G-d**n are all the books?” Either F or S would make more sense.

  6. Gotta wonder just how this “study” was conducted. Random polling? Or asking for self-selected responses in a pub or webpage (which are, themselves, self-selected)?

    Methodology is critical for accurate data collection and analysis. The correct techniques are not rocket science and have been well known for decades.

    • ETA:

      OK, I admit I’ve had classes in statistics and probability theory, which makes me a nerdy, nitpicky outlier compared to most people. And I’ve harped on this re: polling in several TPV posts recently.

      And, yes, it bugs me. But I think most smart, informed, knowledgeable people get really irked when they see ignorant people mindlesssly blathering about a subject they have expertise on and the blatherers don’t. Grrr…

  7. My hubby loves ebooks, but says the only thing he’d buy physical now is for reference books because it’s easier to search. Which I agree. I do find it easier to flip back through physical pages of a book to find something than to do it on an ereader.

  8. Yes but what about the future future after the apocalypse when there’s no electricity and the only books available to read are the paper books future scavenger generations can find that haven’t already been burnt on the fire trying to keep warm, or cook your next rat for dinner?

  9. I like printed books but ONLY comfortable little mass market ones that I can curl up with in bed and fit my hands well. It’s much easier when I’m doing a lot of flipping around and skipping to the parts I want in fiction books I love and reread and reread. For stories I’m less invested in or books too physically big to be comfort reading, digital all the way.

  10. Since it was not yet available as an ebook, the publisher sent me a physical copy. I started reading and, initially took book notes by tearing up Post-It notes, writing little notes on them and sticking them to the corresponding pages. It was a terrible strategy. Eventually I switched to writing notes with page numbers in my iPhone.

    Eventually this guy might figure out how to write in the margin and underline stuff right in the book.

    • What, write in a book? Sacrilege! 😉

      Though to this day I hate finding even underlining in a book. Used books in college, with old highlighting, drove me crazy. My brain wanted to ignore all that yellow stuff.

    • I’m the same. There was one book I actually underlined things and wrote notes, and I had to use a ruler and a fine pencil to do it, or it would have driven me nuts. Only one book in all my life.

      (That was in 13th grade – senior year in Germany – and we were reading a fat paperback textbook on the Third Reich.)

  11. The subject line alone, prior to browsing the snipped content, made me think that this was about FINDing things on the Kindle.

    To which I say: it sucks. I want to be able to drill down into the stuff I have purchased by category, and I can’t. Collections are a pain to maintain (and I shouldn’t have to). If I want to find all the “mystery” books on my Kindle by category, that ought to be something I can easily do. A touch-based menu system is, after all, what touchscreens were created to do.

    This goes for the Kindle app on the iPad, btw. I stopped using my Fire ages ago.

    /rant off.

  12. I agree strongly with most of what the article says. Ebooks are the future, and increasingly about the present. This doesn’t mean print books are doomed or do not have their place. Print and ebooks, imho, will co-exist for the foreseeable future. However, I also expect that reading on an electronic device will predominate (if it does not already, at least in the US).

  13. I have cut way down on my physical library. Truth of the matter is, being a voracious reader, there are few books I know I will re-read at some point.

    I have some books that I buy in paper/hard back for keeping, mostly research books because yeah, I don’t like using a Kindle or tablet to look through those. The rest are fiction that I want to re-read, or at least think there’s a good chance I’ll re-read.

    Everything else? I either buy ebooks/new physical copies, or if those are priced too high, I buy used PB/HB. The ebooks can be deleted off my Kindle when I’m done (but they’re still in the cloud, so on hand if I change my mind). The used books go into a box after everyone (in my house) who wants to read them has, and will either be A) donated to the library, B) sold in a yard sale, or C) donated to a charity shop after a yard sale. I’m in favor of book recycling.

    If I’m wrong about wanting to re-read a book, I’ll get another copy when I have the urge to re-read it. Maybe by then, the ebook version will be more reasonably priced.

    For me, this is more reasonable than storing boxes and boxes of books I don’t have room in my house for, and which may end up damaged from being stored so long… which is what I used to do. =/

  14. From an accessibility standpoint, eBooks are far and away better than physical books. I love old pocket paperbacks from the ’60s and later, but I find it impossible to read more than a few chapters in a sitting because they’re printed on shoddy paper, with tiny, condensed print. My eyes aren’t that great anymore, and even modern paperbacks are hard for me to read because tightly-packed, 8-point font is all but illegible for me unless I hold the book six inches from my nose.

    With the Kindle, all those problems go away.

  15. I’ve been in the eBook world a little over a year now. It’s convenient to me because I have one device that allows me to carry multiple books wherever I go without the bulk or weight of physical books.

    While I miss the joyful act of reading physical books, I find it less enjoyable to browse the pretty covers in a bookstore–how we haven’t started up a browse-hard-copy-buy-e-copy system yet baffles me–because I’m too focused on the idea of heavy clutter for books I might never read again, or even finish in some cases (I’ve also reignited my interest in the library system to manage my bibliophilia).

    However, I move around a lot and have been significantly simplifying my lifestyle. For this reason, it’s just more logical to stick with eBooks. If I’m not able to bring my Kindle with me places, I know I can pick up where I left off through my smartphone’s Kindle app, which is one of the highest-valued features I find with eBooks, not to mention highlighting and note-taking.

    I do agree that navigation, menus/categories, and searches could be improved, but I’ll give it time. Technologies in the digital age evolve [relatively] quickly enough.

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